I grew up under less than ideal or “typical” circumstances in NYC.- alcoholic, poor, pretty broken at times…I lived with my mother and 3 siblings, father was absent from a young age.
There were no rules, no expectations, no routines, no rhythms. In fact, by a young age, I started to make my own and embrace those that did exist in the world for my own sanity. We could do what we wanted, when we wanted and really, the sky was the limit. School for example, we just didn’t have to go. Neither of my brothers went much and suffered as a result. However, one day I decided I’d stay home from school and my mother said fine. Twenty minutes later, I thought, wait, I want to go! I don’t want to sit here and watch TV all day! I think because of the lack of structure, stability, safety in my home, I took to school and made it MY thing. In fact, as I look back that was the start of creating some sort of structure for myself– network of healthy adults (neighbors, teachers, etc.) that I took to running in high school, loved reading and doing homework, found outlets for my creative interests.
The lack of limits and routines made for an ungrounded, at times frightening upbringing–one whose lingering effects weave in and out of my life to this day, although infrequently now. I think about this often as I parent and school my children. I’m infinitely curious about this groundedness that folks grow up with (like my husband), the security he embodies because he grew up with boundaries, affection, care…
It is hard to reflect on our family rhythm without touching on other aspects of my upbringing such as the lack of care, love and health of my family.
I intuitively came to know that I needed some structure and created it for myself as a child. Today, this path of parenting has taught me to see and act on things from love and practicality– perhaps the absence of parenting heritage might be a blessing in disguise as I’m not loaded with it’s weight and legacy.